McDonald's' blogger perks are drawing increasing attention, at least from the press.
Recently, PR consultant Josh Ainsfeld publicly described a U.K.-targeted McDonald's' strategy of assembling some 400 bloggers (also said to be McD fans) willing to write favorably about the QSR, reportedly in exchange for gifts and all-expenses-paid parties.
The Huffington Post is among the press outlets now asking: "Is McDonald's trying to bribe bloggers?"
Earlier in May, the New York Times reported on a 2010 junket in which McDonald's flew 15 blogers to Chicago, put them in in an upscale hotel, and gave them a tour of its headquarters.
Blogger/marketer relationships have always had large and often controversial gray areas, of course -- and McDonald's is hardly alone.
"While bloggers are often viewed as members of the media, they don't have to follow the same rules that many journalists do, so they can accept as many gifts and trips as they want," points out PR Week. "It seems like McDonald's is just joining the bandwagon on blogger events and campaigns."
Do consumers, as opposed to the press, know or care about whether bloggers' opinions are being influenced by various freebies and perks from various marketers? No answers provided in these press accounts.
But PR Week ventures that "if [McDonald's] remains transparent about the [blogger] initiatives and what they entail, criticism will most likely taper [sic] out."